Should Public Transit Systems Open Up Their Data?
from the seems-like-a-good-idea dept
Should public transit data be opened up online for anyone to use? That’s the question that’s being discussed with regards to the Washington DC Metro’s attempt to license its data to Google. Basically, Google has been asking the Metro to open its data up in an open format designed by Google, but which can be used by everyone, and which is quickly becoming the standard for transit info around the world. While the DC Metro has suggested a few objections, in the end it apparently has come down to money. The Metro wants Google to pay up for the data, noting that Google is a for-profit company and the DC Metro is a tax-payer and rider-funded public transportation system that could certainly use more revenue.
However, as others have pointed out, this seems short-sighted. First off, it’s hard to come up with a sensible argument for why this data shouldn’t already be made as accessible as possible — especially since it is publicly funded. But, more importantly, by making the data available and letting others do the hard work of making it more useful it should drive more people to ride the Metro, meaning more revenue. Yet, in haggling over a license fee for the data, the Metro hoards the data, makes it more difficult to make that data useful and actually decreases ridership — and likely overall revenue.